The Warren County Board of Education reluctantly accepted a modified budget for the 2011-12 school year after its planned budget was shot down by the Warren County Commission.
“When you’re being robbed at gunpoint what other choices do you have,” said School Board member Bill Zechman, who voted to pass the budget assembled by Director of Schools Dr. Jerry Hale and School Board chairman Bob Young.
The original budget had been rejected by the Warren County Commission which said it would not approve the school budget without a reduction in funding. The School Board had asked for more money from property taxes, which is reliable, instead of counting on funding from sales tax projections which are unpredictable.
Board members were slow to approve the reduced budget, with no one wanting to second a motion for it to be approved. Board member Scott Holmes suggested the board raise its budget based on an estimate for an exceptional year in sales tax revenue.
However, strong sales tax revenue is something the board agreed is not likely to happen.
“There’s always the Easter Bunny,” joked board member Jeff Lee, in estimating the chances of a high grossing sales tax year.
While such a high, but likely unrealistic, sales tax estimate could raise the maintenance of effort for the next school year, Dr. Hale pointed out it could endanger the school year if the state did not approve their budget for lack of funding.
“We don’t have a fund balance to fall back on now,” Dr. Hale said, noting the only safe avenue was to approve the amended budget. “I don’t know that we have any alternative.”
Given the reduced budget, Zechman questioned if there would be enough funds to make it through the school year.
“With the budget we are being forced into, are you confident we can reach the end of the school year?” Zechman asked.
“We will make it through the year, whether that means raising fees, putting off purchase of text books at the end of the year, or putting off some maintenance projects,” Dr. Hale said.